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French Design at The Wolfsonian Design Museum, Miami Beach

Um. this exhibition liberty equality and fraternity was a collaboration uh. with the wolfsonian florida international university and the centre national des arts plastiques in paris and the cnap as it’s known is the collecting entity of the french state and i was invited to do a design exhibition from their collection which would look at the french design patrimony uh. but through the lens that the wolfsonian brings to its collection of the cultural and political and economic context so i invited a group of collaborators matali crasset mm paris and alexandra midal to work with me curatorial and design collaboration.

To present french design from the nineteen forties to today in miami to an audience that i felt would know some of the history but not all of the history and so this is an exciting exhibition that takes the motto of france liberty equality and fraternity and looks at some of the main themes and the main a historical design figures that have created french design culture today so included in the exhibition is work by roger tallon who unfortunately has recently passed away really the father of french industrial design after the second world.

War of course Philippe Starck who reinvigorated french design and is truly a global design star from the nineteen ninetys to today as well as many contemporary designers like the bouroullec brothers, there is martin szekely, pierre charpin and some of the figures that are known uh. very well in france today but also in the context in miami within the design fairs that are here now uh. that uh. people are becoming more familiar with the french contemporary designers um. the exhibition was organized in nine thematic sections and each section either takes an idea.

Or takes a characteristic momgraphic approach and so for example matali crasset who is one of my collaborators uh. one section focuses on ideal home and in her work she has really contested our agreed upon relationship with the built environment and objects in has created objects that have a multiple uh. expression multiple uses in terms of being able to redefine the environment and our relationship to the objects uh. again someone like philippe starck whose work is so widely known and has done everything from a toothbrush to architecture.

Uh. we try to select in philippe starck’s work a kind of manifesto and thinking about him as a design star who was able to bridge the gap between working for the high elite so we have pieces here that were done for the elysee palace the french presidential home as well as products that are down for a mass audience for a company called trois suisses which is a mail order catalogue and so we wanted to present this to poles of french design. another theme that runs through liberty equality and fraternity is.

How we characterize french design perhaps most popularly as being really an elite craft oriented design cultures so working against the prewar idea of the decorator or ensembli with the more technological engineering aspect of design modularity monumentalism and works such as that by jean prouv for example so we’ve tried to give a picture of french design that not only reminds us of some of the things we already know but also to repropose of reading of french design history within a political and cultural context the exhibition liberty equality and fraternity.

Was organized as a collaboration and instead of curating it myself with a list of objects and then handing it off to designers to design the set and the book i decided to work the whole project as a collaboration and the designers and i worked together as a curatorial and design team and with that taking the motto of france as the overarching idea the designers mm and matali crasset and alexandra midal use the idea of le corbusier’s modulor, the metric system that he devised based on the human body.

To be the the theme that runs throughout the design of the show and they made a sort of kit i’d say a kit of parts to create a scenography for the show so every element is really drawn from this one essential element of the modulor of le corbusier of course working with french designers and giving them the title of the show uh. i think they also wanted to in a kind of ironic way to say you know this is really about french design so we make the colors of the show red white and blue.

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